Renewed Retail Commitment + Reenergized Retail Passion + Reinvigorated Retail Marketing = Recharged Retail Sales
Here in the Northeast it's been a very rainy, dismal June, and from conversations I've been having, that seems to be mood among many independent retailers as well. Business has been tough this month, after seeming to stabilize over the last three months. Some that I've spoken with are attributing this to customers sitting back and waiting retailers out, anticipating the same deep discounts when clearance activity begins next month that we saw last winter. I think there's probably some truth in that.
But there's something else going on out there among independent retailers, and that's fatigue. It's been a rough couple of years, and the last nine months have been particularly trying. It's tough to remain energized and sharp month after month when nothing you do to drive business seems to make much difference.
The new normal, however, presents new challenges, and one of those challenges is that independent retailers need to become far more aggressive marketers. The days when you can run your events and promotions, unlock the doors and expect to do your numbers are over.
At a time when business is hard to come by, you can not afford to be passive, whether out of habit, or fatigue. What's needed right now is renewed commitment, reenergized passion, and reinvigorated marketing. It's the only way to recharge sales.
As the customer is making clear, left to themselves, they'd just as soon not come out of their bunker right now. It's not enough to wait for them to come to where you are, you must break out of the comfort zone and engage them directly, one on one where they are.
There are any number of ways to do this:
- Create a special event after hours in your store, and go the extra mile to be sure it's particularly memorable.
- Put together a special neighborhood trunk show, working together with your best vendor and your best customer to pull together a special evening. Don't even worry about selling anything; put your focus on meeting new people/customers!
- Develop a referral reward program that encourages your best customers to bring their friends, and reward them with something fun, like a gift certificate to the best restaurant in town.
- Segment your customer email list based upon specific interests, ages, whatever makes sense, and send out targeted emails to each group, focusing on topics of specific interest to them, rather than plugging your latest sale.
- Set a goal of personally calling two of your best customers every day, and finding out how they're doing. These aren't sales calls, these are call to people you truly care about.
The one thread that ties all of these ideas together is reaching out to these customers so they know how important they are to you, and making the interaction both meaningful and memorable. Yes, this is marketing, but marketing on a personal level, a connection that's genuine and authentic.
There were a number of quotes from different retailers when the downturn began that they weren't going to participate in the recession. Well, like it or not, we're all participants. The thing that will separate the winners from the also-rans will be the level of energy and passion they commit to reaching out and reconnecting with their best customers.